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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Traditional Land Use and Occupancy Studies


Traditional Use Studies (TUS) are also known as Traditional Land Use Studies or Traditional Land Use and Occupancy Studies. Whatever the name, they are all used for similar purposes, whether the study is initiated by a First Nations community or by the natural resources sector. The main purpose of a Traditional Use Study is to gather and record Traditional Knowledge and patterns of traditional use by Aboriginal communities through various means including oral histories with Elders and custodians of knowledge; mapping of traditional uses such as hunting sites and activity areas; and historical research. Depending on the reason for the TUS, studies may include a community's entire land area or may focus on a specific area of concern (usually when initiated by resource developers).

As the request to conduct a TUS usually comes from the individual community, each community will have various reasons for the Study, and different goals and outcomes as well. The traditional way of life is vital to First Nations' identity and, as resource development continues, the need to document where and how Aboriginal Peoples hunted, fished, gathered plants, trapped, and lived for centuries is extremely important. Once a Study has been completed, the information remains with the community and is shared at their discretion.

A benchmark document for such studies is the Best Practices Handbook for Traditional Use Studies, published by the Government of Alberta, Alberta Aboriginal Relations and Northern Development (now Alberta Aboriginal Relations) in 2003. The Handbook outlines the entire process and provides easy-to-follow guidelines and information for anyone wanting to learn about TUS and communities who plan to undertake such a study.

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            For more on Aboriginal land use in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.

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